St. JOHN’S, Newfoundland and Labrador – The Spencer Machacek watch is finally over for fans of the St. John’s IceCaps. The 23-year-old forward signed a one-year, two-way (NHL-AHL) contract with the Winnipeg Jets this week, ending a lengthy negotiation that lasted most of the hockey offseason.
Machacek was the IceCaps leading scorer last season with 50 points in 61 games. His play earned him a late-season call-up to the Jets, the IceCaps parent organization, where he picked up nine points in 13 games. Under normal circumstances, Machacek would be considered a candidate for a big-league roster spot this fall. However, given the current state of labor woes plaguing the NHL, Machacek is almost certain to instead begin the season with the IceCaps.
That should sit well with hockey fans in St. John’s. Machacek was a consistent performer with the IceCaps last season, displaying a gritty, two-way game to accompany his offensive skills. In addition to leading the team in points, he also led the club in shots-on-goal with 166 and finished second in assists with 32. His 18 goals were tied for second-most on the team.
“I made some good strides last year and had a lot of fun playing (in St. John’s),” Machacek told the Winnipeg Free Press. “Hockey is a lot about confidence and that call-up at the end of the year, I knew it was a good time to come up and the Jets were making a playoff push. I was really excited and just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win. It’s unfortunate that didn’t work out, but I think I made strides.”
Machacek had hoped to get a one-way, NHL, contract from the Jets following his stellar 2011-12 campaign, however the upcoming NHL lockout and the abundance of Winnipeg forwards already possessing one-way deals derailed any such plans.
“You always want a one-way, but sometimes it doesn’t happen,” Machacek told The Telegram, a daily newspaper in St. John’s. “But if you play well, you’re going to be in the NHL anyway. So you put the contract behind you.”
Following his fine play in last year’s regular season, Machacek added seven assists in 11 AHL playoff games before a sports hernia knocked him out of the lineup for the entirety of the IceCaps Eastern Conference final against the Norfolk Admirals. St. John’s struggled to produce offensive opportunities throughout the series, ultimately losing in a four-game sweep.
Machacek has declared himself healthy and completely healed from offseason surgery to correct the injury and expects to hit the ice when the IceCaps open training camp on Oct. 1.
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